Andrell Smith having big season for Cards

Andrell Smith has been perhaps the most consistent offensive weapon for the University of Louisville through four games. The senior wide receiver leads the team in receptions and receiving yards. Cardinal Authority has a feature on Smith.

Andrell Smith remembers his first meeting with University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong after he had just been hired.

Strong never looked at Smith, who recalls the coach "just went off on me."

Smith was one of the true freshmen who played under former U of L coach Steve Kragthorpe during the 2009 season. But the wide receiver admitted he wasn't doing well in school and wasn't sure of his future.

"He came in and just started speaking and went off on me," Smith said. "He started cussing me out. He told me I had to do better in classes or otherwise I won't be anything. I took it as a challenge.

"Some people took it the wrong way and left."

Smith stayed and three years later he's thriving. Four games into his senior season, Smith is set to graduate in December and leads the Cardinals in receptions (14) and receiving yards (189).

"He's probably been the most consistent, the one player I can point too who has been very consistent (game) one through four has been Andrell," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "He's been really consistent."

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Smith has also become a favorite target of sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He's one of 12 players who has caught passes and averages 13.5 yards a catch and 47.2 yards a game.

"He's playing great football and trusting himself," Bridgewater said. "He's a very physical receiver and is allowing things to come natural for him."

Smith said he hasn't always had trust or belief in himself.

He played in 10 games as a freshman but had no catches and was mainly on special teams, and then had his thoughts of leaving at seasons-end noting that he "didn't want to say too much about that part."

But once Strong came aboard and Smith said wide receivers coach Ron Dugans were the "best things for me" because they held him accountable.

As a sophomore, Smith finished fourth on the team with 25 receptions for 377 yards and he caught a pass in every game but one. He had 11 catches for 207 yards receiving in 12 games as a junior.

Smith said he prepared for his senior season with a lot of hard work. He missed spring practice with a back injury but was ready for fall camp.

"What I knew was weak (with his game) was that I didn't believe in myself at first," Smith said. "It starts with practice, what I say is believing in myself. You have to believe in yourself before you can do anything."

After three years of playing, Smith said he's finally playing with confidence in himself and his abilities. He said Dugans was a big part of that, keeping after him during drills and practices.

"Coach Dugans is always getting into me and telling me what I can do," Smith said. "That sparks me and then telling me what I can do. I just took it upon myself to work hard and work on my weaknesses."

Smith started the season with four catches for 46 yards against Kentucky and then had three for 48 yards against Missouri State. He caught two for 45 yards against North Carolina before having a career-high five catches for 50 yards and one touchdown in font of his family and friends at Florida International. He is from the Miami-area and played his high school games at FIU Stadium.

"It feels good for me," Smith said. "My team needs me. I feel like the reason I have stepped up is because the coaches always came to me and told me the type of player I could be. I wanted to try and take that role and be that player.

"They said if I get my mind right, I can be a top prospect."

Smith said he's not finished, noting that he "has to stay humble," while Watson said he believes the senior can finish his career on a high note.

"He's building a resume for his future," Watson said. "He is maybe going to be able to play beyond here. He's been very consistent and has played at a high level all the way through for us."

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